With a sold-out crowd and a TV crew on hand Friday night, Plainfield North coach Bob Krahuilk didn’t need to tell his team that this was a big game. The Tigers had their crosstown and Southwest Prairie rivals from Plainfield East in their gym, with ashare offirst place in the league on the line. Everyone in the locker room knew the stakes at hand.
“Have fun and enjoy it,” Krahuilk said. “That’s all the advice I had to tell them before the game.”
Plainfield North followed their coach’s advice, using a balanced offense and physical defense to top the Bengals 63-54. Three players scored in double-figures for the Tigers, with forward Trevor Stumpe leading the way with 17 points and five rebounds.
Stumpe, a senior, scored just five points in the first half, after picking up his third foul with six minutes to go in the second. At the time he sat, Plainfield North (16-4, 8-2) led by just four points. When he returned to the game after halftime, the Tigers’ advantage had grown to seven and would eventually reach a 12-point lead midway through the third.
“There was nothing I could do when I was put on the bench. Just cheer on my teammates and come ready to play when I was back in the game,” Stumpe said. “It’s a big testament to my teammates that our lead grew. I couldn’t be more proud of the way we played.”
Kevin Krieger added 13 points and five boards for the Tigers, while Brandon Smeets chipped in with 11.
The Tigers were also strong on the defensive end. They shut down their opponent during a key stretch in the fourth quarter, after the Bengals cut the lead to 43-39. Plainfield East (12-9, 7-3) went more than three 90s without a point, and when they did finally score after their drought, they were down by nine.
Bengals star Aaron Jordan scored 17 points before fouling out; no other Plainfield East player had more than nine points.
“We focused on denying (Jordan) the ball and getting out on their big guys, because we know they can shoot,” Krieger said. “We wanted to capitalize on that, because our defense leads to our offense. When we play well on the defensive end, we are going to score some points.”
A big key in the win by the Tigers was free throw differential. Plainfield North shot 27 of 36 from the stripe, while the Bengals were just 11 of 17.